Four of us assembled to break out Revolution: The Dutch Revolt. With no experiance with the game at the table, we figured on a learning game. I have studied the rules as best I could, and had gone over the rules beforehand with two of the other players. The group is made up of gamers comfortable with complex games (such as Age of Renaissance), so this didn't look too daunting.
The players (by random assignment) were:
Catholics - Greg (me)
Habsburgs - Chris
Burghers - Seth
Reformers - Mike
On to the game...
The conservative forces moved with precision, with the Habsburgs taking the cities in Flanders with strength. The Catholics focused on Liege, Koln, and Utrecht.
The conservative forces held three (Catholic) and four (Habsburg) cities, allowing for a massive tax collection in the first turn.
The Liberal forces were unsure of how to position themselves, and did not shuffle the turn order, nor focus adequately on cities. The Reformers took the province of Flanders (since all other units were in towns or cities), but not a single city. The Burgers had two cities in Holland, but were extending their focus to Zeeland and Generality.
Hey, first game... it happens.
With starting turn order, the Catholics raised two armies in Utrecht, blocking the Reformers. This blunted a sizable Reformer investment, and the Reformers lacked the finances to bring in the Water Beggars on their side.
The Catholic's dominance in Utrecht had the Reformers dismayed.
The Habsburg armies marched into the north, and destroyed a university in Friesland. In turns 1 & 2 the Burgers started to find their feet, as they realized that they were richer than they knew.
Yea, it's only a partial game, so the end and the middle blended quickly. By the end of the second turn, Aachen, Haarlem, and Koln were fully Catholic, while every other city was in the light yellow (mostly catholic). It was a combination of the Liberal's poverty, and the Conservative forces's wealth. The Habsburgs were willing to help the Catholics move the cities Catholic, while the Burgers were reluctant to move the sliders back.
The Habsburg's solid hold on Flanders is lightly contested by the Burgers.
By the end, the Burgers were beginning to march, but their cities were falling to the Catholic's influence. The conservatives were acting much like true allies (neither knew who was getting the better deal out of it), while the liberals provided much less support to each other.
At final count (in the 3rd turn), the scores were:
What did we learn?
Mike (the reformer) learned how small a portion of the total Victory points are faction specific.
Everyone learned the importance of taking a city or two early for income.
I learned that a total partnership between the Habsburgs and Catholics seemed to favor the Catholics in the long run.
The complexity of the Water Beggars seemed to hurt the liberals in a first game. I think they'll get used more next time.
I think we also found that the game isn't complex (for this group of players atleast), and plays quickly. It does have many steps, but each step is fairly simple.
Well, we've got a rematch tonight, with players taking the same faction a second time. I'll let you know how it goes.
Old Ways Are Best!
I think your appreciation of the game, and the play balance in general, will be greatly enhanced by adding that fifth player! Welcome to the club!!